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Why the Strangest Mammal is Also the Most Trafficked

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Environmental   |   Science  
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Pangolins are known as the most poached animal in the world. These burrowing anteaters are hunted for their scales, which are wrongly believed to have curative properties. Here's how they're being saved.
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The pangolin is an ancient mammal, evolutionary speaking, 85 million years. It's the only mammal covered in hard keratinous overlapping scales. They're completely edentate, they can't even open their mouth. They've got a tongue almost as long as their body. And they are very closely related evolutionarily speaking to the carnivora, in particular cats.

It's physiology is quite unique to any other animal. But because it's so unique, and that it's covered in these hard overlapping scales made out of keratin, that's its downfall. That's what it makes it so sought after.

Pangolins, both in Asia and particular Vietnam and in Africa have been used as bush meat, and regarded as a delicacy for many thousands of years. But more importantly,, both in African and Asia, pangolins are used culturally as traditional Pharmacopeia or traditional medicine if you want to call it that. And that also dates back many, many thousands of years. And this is its great prize, and this its great downfall is the harvest of its scales, ground into powder and added as a remedy in both traditional African and traditional Asian medicines.

#Pangolins #poaching #poachers #wildlife #wildcrime #seeker #nature #conservation

Read More:
Illegal trade in pangolins keeps growing as criminal networks expand
Vast quantities of them are now being smuggled from Africa to Asia, despite an international trade ban on all eight pangolin species that went into effect in 2017. A new report confirms that this illegal trade is only growingand that organized international criminal networks that previously dealt predominantly with African elephant ivory are increasingly turning to pangolins.

The shy, harmless pangolin is becoming increasingly well known for one reason: Its believed to be the worlds most trafficked non-human mammal. Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached every year, killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and for their meat, a delicacy among some ultra-wealthy in China and Vietnam.

Temminck's ground pangolin
Temmincks ground pangolin is the most widespread of the four African pangolin species, occurring from northern South Africa through most of East Africa and into southern Sudan and southern Chad. It is the second-largest species, with the largest individual to date weighing 19 kg.


Across the globe, elephants are poached for their tusks, pangolins for their scales, and totoaba fish for their bladders. Tackling the fourth largest crime industry in the world isnt easy, but biologists, roboticists, detectives and even NASA scientists are getting creative in the hopes of making a difference. In this Seeker series, well investigate true stories of wildlife crime and meet the people who are working to protect the worlds most endangered and persecuted animals.

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